Teddy bear’s time to shine

by Andy Bryenton

‘I don’t think my name will be of much assistance in promoting toy bears, but you are welcome to use it’.

Those were the words of United States President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt, who was the inspiration for the first Teddy Bear when he saved a real live bear from being shot by hunters. Mr Roosevelt’s bear helped him win re-election, and was so popular that his political opponent William Taft tried to make his own cuddly toy, Billy the Opossum.

This month Teddy bears in the Selwyn district are coming out of the toy boxes and playrooms and into the sun, with a couple of special events planned for them. First up is a chance for Teddy bears to get together for a night of fun and mischief at local libraries. The day after comes the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, a tradition dating back to 1907 when the catchy tune was first written. Oddly, it wasn’t until 1933 that Jimmy Kennedy wrote those famous verses about ‘going down to the woods today’.

If you’d like to bring your teddy bear along for an overnight library adventure, bring him or her along to your local library in Rolleston, Leeston, Lincoln or Darfield by 2pm. Come back the next day to find out what happened overnight — it’s an established scientific fact that teddy bears can come to life if left alone in libraries, near all those books about real bears, though only if nobody is watching. There will be stories, fun green-screen selfies, and Teddy-related fun and games for junior bear keepers.

That same day — Saturday the 20th — marks the great New World Rolleston Teddy Bears Picnic, held at the Rolleston Community centre from 1pm. Expect faeries, face painting, a bouncy castle, and of course lots of bear-themed picnic fun. To find out more about these free events, visit selwyn.govt.nz.

Isn’t it great that President Roosevelt was wrong? More than 110 years after the advent of the stuffed cuddly bear, his name lives on in the form of the most popular and beloved children’s toy ever. That’s far more fun than politics.